Virtually every aspect of a functioning bar has room for optimization in terms of sustainability. As we gear up for a brand-new year we reflect on the past and make a commitment to do better for ourselves and our surroundings in the future.
Every day, environmentally conscious mixologists are uncovering new ways to take as much pressure off our planet as humanly possible. For instance, three SoCal bartenders are currently employing the practice of integrating waste-eliminating garnishes (specifically dehydrated versions) into their cocktails for a sip that is both beautiful and a part of a smarter, more sustainable bar operation. For these pro mixologists, a dehydrated dragon fruit slice or upcycled strawberry scrap serves a far more noble cause than an aesthetically pleasing cocktail.
We follow three west coast bartenders at some of the top bars in the area to find out how to garnish more sustainably. We kick off the Behind the Garnish series with Bar Director Nick Sinutko of Campfire in Carlsbad.
Bar Director, Nick Sinutko
Campfire, Carlsbad, CA | Temple of the Jaguar
Talk to us about your waste-free garnishes at the bar.
When processing fruit or vegetables during preparation, we consider which culinary technique (blanching, dehydrating, or blending) can be applied to the byproduct in question to extend its use.
Why is it important to create a more sustainable program at your bar?
Whether large-scale agriculture or commercial distilling, many people are unaware of the massive amounts of food and water waste. Given the increasingly limited resources we have, any difference we can make is a difference worth making.
Give us some tips for using waste-eliminating garnishes.
Don’t neglect the outer bits; often, some of the most vibrant flavors can be found in the oils that reside in the peels of citrus, even pineapple.
If it can’t be visually appealing, consider steeping the ingredient in some neutral alcohol and spraying it over the drink to add another layer of aromatic complexity.
What is important for bartenders to know?
I think it’s crucial for bartenders to educate themselves about production methods and ask, how did this end up in front of me?
Story Behind the Garnish:
The Temple of the Jaguar is strawberry soda with delicate spice. It is made with gin from the Yucatán peninsula and a strawberry syrup that employs a trio of dried Mexican chilies. The cocktail is finished with a touch of aromatized wine, citrus stock/lime juice, and soda water and is garnished with a house-made strawberry ‘Tajin’ made with upcycled strawberry scraps, lacto-fermented pineapple juice (from a menu dish), and the reserved dried Mexican chilies from making the syrup.
One of the core tenets of Campfire’s cocktail philosophy is up-cycling / reducing waste. In addition to employing a ’trash-tiki’ style citrus stock for the acid in the cocktail, Nick additionally makes a homemade strawberry-flavored ‘Tajin’ to finish the drink.
“The majority of our cocktails have an element of waste reduction built into them, and the Temple of the Jaguar is no different. Reserving both the soaked chilies from the syrup production, and strawberry scraps we have from slicing garnish elsewhere… We blend those into a paste with fermented pineapple juice from our Crudo dish, spread thinly and dehydrate overnight, and re-blend into a powder with Citric Acid; resulting in a tangy, fruity, spicy powder to finish the drink. This is something anyone can do at home with just a blender and an oven.”
Temple of the Jaguar
- 1 1/2 oz Gin
- 1/2 oz Aromatized Wine (optional)
- 1 Strawberry Chili Syrup
- 1 Citrus Stock / Lime Juice
- Top w/ Soda
Preparation: Combine ingredients. Garnish with Homemade Strawberry Tajin. *If making without aromatized wine, Nick recommends using .75/ea of the Citrus and Sugar components instead.